Imagine a world without plants. We rely on them for everything, yet they are often overlooked. Now, thousands of plant scientists, botanists, farmers and gardeners from all over the world are coming together to share their Fascination of Plants, and Leeds is playing its part too.
On Friday May 18th the importance of plants on our planet will be under the spotlight worldwide. The first International Fascination of Plants Day, launched under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organization (EPSO, Brussels), is bringing together more than 450 institutions in 39 countries to celebrate the role of plant science in the social, environmental and economic landscape now and into the future. The University of Leeds will be holding a special event in The Light Shopping Centre on The Headrow in Leeds city centre, featuring displays of plants known and not so well known, such as cassava, wheat, tomatoes, miscanthus and vinca. The aim is to demonstrate how these crops contribute to our daily lives, not through food, but in energy, textile and drug production. The event will also feature a show hive of bees to highlight the crucial and often overlooked role that pollinators play in our world, and all visitors to the stand will be able to pick up packs of wild flower seeds so they too can take part in celebrating plants at home.
Local schools will be in attendance, giving children the chance to find out more about these fascinating plants, and to start making the connection between the growing plant and where our food comes from.
Professor Christine Foyer, Director of the University's Food security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture hub, believes it's vital we highlight the role of plants in our everyday lives:
"There is a global challenge to deliver nutritious, safe and affordable food to a population of over 9 billion using less land, fewer inputs, reduced waste and lower environmental impact. However, without plants there is no significant life on earth - other than microbes. From the air that we breathe to the water and food that sustain us, we owe it all to plants. Events like this can really help bring the role of plants to life for children and adults alike."
The Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture hub at the University of Leeds is a new initiative that harnesses a wide variety of research expertise to address the global challenges of food security. The Hub brings together experts in plant bioscience, environmental services, ecosystems services and pest control. The hub also examines waste reduction, packaging and storage, livestock agriculture, nutrition and food stability.
Fascination of Plants events are happening all over the country. From the space age Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre to the ancient Stonehenge landscape, events will explore how we share our planet with plants. Universities, plant research institutes and botanic gardens will open their doors to let the public explore basic plant science, agricultural research, environmental conservation, biodiversity, education and arts.
The public, journalists and the media are invited to explore laboratories, visit greenhouses, field sites, museums, and other exhibitions. Cambridge University Botanic Garden will explore the power of plants to provide food, drugs, energy and more. Cardiff University are providing tours around their plant science labs and hosting talks, debates and exhibitions, and there will be a chance to visit Thanet Earth, the largest glasshouse complex in the UK.
Stephen Muench with Glaxo SmithKline & UCB Celltech, BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award (Apr 2018), £480,225
Steve Clapcote, BBSRC (Apr 2018), £443,072
Helen Miller, Innovate UK (Apr 2018), £999,960
Elisabetta Groppelli, David Rowlands & Stanley Lemon (University of North Carolina), Medical Research Foundation Fellowship (Apr 2018), £293,494
Nikesh Patel, Medical Research Foundation fellowship (Apr 2018), £290,976
Graham Askew with colleagues in Hull and Liverpool, BBSRC (Apr 2018), £150,498
Andrew Macdonald, Neil Ranson & Richard Foster, Kidney Research UK (Apr 2018), £82,821
Jessica Kwok & Ralf Richter, Leverhulme Trust (Apr 2018), £298,273
Julie Aspden, Royal Society (Apr 2018), £20,000
Liz Duncan, Royal Society (Mar 2018), £14,602
Alex O'Neill & Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £45,489
Jim Deuchars, Royal Society (Feb 2018), £16,300
Stefan Kepinski & Netta Cohen, Leverhulme Trust (Feb 2018), £320,387
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £49,950
Alison Baker, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Lars Jeuken, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Scott Bowen, Leducq Foundation Grant (Feb 2018), £28,470
Jessica Kwok and Ronaldo Ichiyama, International Spinal Research Trust (Feb 2018), £94,450
Alex O'Neill, Oxford Drug Design (Jan 2018), £86,098
Dave Lewis and Colleagues in South Africa, HEFCE Global Challenge Research (Jan 2018), £48,000
Sarah Calaghan, Ed White, John Colyer, Isuru Jayasinghe, BHF (Jan 2018), £128,308
Christine Foyer and Alison Baker, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £71,158
Alison Baker, Yun Yung Gong and Lindsay Stringer and ICRISAT India, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £27,000
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2017), £18,000
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
Adrian Whitehouse and colleagues in School of Chemistry and University of Liverpool, MRC (Nov 2017), £622,319
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000